Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Blossom Promise by Betsy Byars

A Blossom Promise is the 4th book in the Blossom Family series.  The Blossom family includes Pap, Vicki Blossom (the mother), Maggie, Vern, Junior, Mud and Dump (the dogs).  In this story, Maggie and Vicki are away on the rodeo circuit while Michael and Vern are at home with Pap.  In their absence, multiple disasters strike.  First, Mud gets bitten by a snake.  Then Vern and his best friend Michael make a raft and raft down Snake Creek, which is flooded because of all the rain. The current is harsh, and the boys get into serious danger. Pap attempts to rescue Vern and Michael from the raging creek but collapses in the process, leaving Junior to handle the family crisis.  Meanwhile, Maggie faces a crisis of her own when she discovers that her mother's new boyfriend is a bullrider on the rodeo circuit.  In the end, the Blossom family reunites to face life's situations together.

By Camille N. and Mrs. Norton

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ms. Coco Is Loco! by Dan Gutman

Ms. Coco Is Loco! is the 16th book in the My Weird School series.  The main character of the series is A.J., a skateboard and video-loving elementary school kid.  Despite the fact that he hates school, A.J. is placed in the Gifted and Talented program where his teacher, Ms. Coco, discovers his natural talent for writing poetry.  When the school principal challenges the students to write 1,000 poems during National Poetry Month, A.J. cashes in on his talent by writing poems for kids in his class.  If you want to read some really funny poems and find out if A.J. gets caught, read Ms. Coco is Loco!
Note: My Weird School books do not have to be read in order.  This was the first book in the series that I have read, and I had no problem following along!
By Mrs. Norton

Friday, July 13, 2012

War Dogs by Joanne Mattern

President Obama stands facing the members of SEAL team 6, the Navy special forces who killed Osama bin Laden.  If you were to see this scene it might be a little strange--battle-hardened heroes, the President, and a dog.  Obama and the SEAL team members treat that dog, Cairo, like a soldier. Cairo was with SEAL Team 6 when they stormed bin Laden's Pakistani compound.  In this book, you'll read about courageous canines that were heroes, saving their men's lives and even dying for their country.  From a seeing eye dog that guides a man down 70 floors in a burning World Trade Center to German Shepherds saving lives in Vietnam,  this book will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about America's unsung heroes...the war dogs.

By Payne N.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson

John Wilkes Boothe.  Most people remember the world-famous actor for one thing.  The assassination of Abraham Lincoln in the Ford's Theatre.  Most people don't know the details of the manhunt that followed after Boothe escaped.  James Swanson takes us to the heart of the chase...Boothe himself.  As Boothe and his accomplice fled to Virginia, the calvary fanned out throughout the area.  Many mysteries surrounded the chase, but the only question on most American's minds was:would Lincoln's murderer ever be brought to justice?  Get ready for a gripping story of a horrible deed, an escape, and a triumphant capture in this mystery thriller, Chasing Lincoln's Killer.

by Payne N.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Lucky Lottery by Ron Roy

The Lucky Lottery is the L installment in Ron Roy's A to Z Mysteries series.  Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose, the kid detective team featured in the series, solve the mystery of Lucky O'Leary's stolen lottery ticket.  What makes the plot even more interesting is that the ticket is a winning ticket, and whoever cashes it in is a millionaire seven times over!  The kid detectives are in a race against time to identify the thief before he (or she) makes off with the money.

If you enjoy mysteries like Encyclopedia Brown, you will probably like the A to Z Mysteries series.  Start with any letter of the alphabet you can get your hands on and read all 26!
By Mrs. Norton

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Piper Reed Navy Brat by Kimberly Willis Holt

Piper Reed is a 4th grade girl whose father is in the U.S. Navy.  In this first book in the Piper Reed series, Captain, Piper's father,  has received orders to move his family from San Diego, California to Pensacola, Florida in the middle of the school year.  The Reed family (Captain, Mom, Tori, Piper, and Sam) makes the cross country trip to their new home and learns once again that home is more than a location on a map; home is where your family is.  If you are a part of a military family, you will understand Piper's feelings about moving.  You will also enjoy the happy ending as Piper and her family help each other adjust to their new home.  Recommended especially for 3rd or 4th graders.
By Mrs. Norton

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo is the author of many wonderful books enjoyed by both children and adults.  Examples you may recognize include The Tale of Despereaux and Because of Winn Dixie.  The Mysterious Journey of Edward Tulane is the story of how Edward Tulane, a self-centered china rabbit, learns the importance of being loved and loving others.  DiCamillo describes the ups and downs of Edward's life from his own unique point of view.  If you have ever imagined that your own stuffed animals and dolls are real, you will probably enjoy this book.  It has a satisfying, feel-good ending.
By Mrs. Norton

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen is an ordinary girl...that is if you live in District Twelve in Panem, a futuristic country in North America where tyranny rules.  Every year, each of the 12 Districts of Panem must send two tributes each (a boy and a girl) to the annual Hunger Games where the tributes must fight to the death.  When Katniss' sister, Prim, is selected to be a tribute, Katniss volunteers in order to save her sister from certain death.  She must leave all she knows in District 12 and go off with Peeta Mellark, the baker's boy, and her Hunger Games "mentor", Haymitch, to the Capitol.  She has to choose between survival and humanity and life and love.  Suzanne Collin's gripping trilogy will have readers cheering for Katniss and Peeta.  That is, if they survive...
Caution: This novel is for older children and may be a little more than some can handle due to graphic descriptions of violence.
By Payne N.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Bud, not Buddy was my second Christopher Paul Curtis book.  (I have also read Elijah of Buxton, an engaging story set during the Civil War.)  The book takes place during the Depression of the 1930's and is, therefore, historical fiction.  Bud, the main character, is a 10-year-old boy who has been on his own since his mother died when he was 6.  He has spent four years either living in an orphanage or in various foster homes.  Early in the story, he decides to follow the few precious clues left by his mother and "go on the lam" to find the father he has never known.

This book would make a great compliment to a study of the Great Depression.  Curtis did much research on the time period and even based the characters Lefty Lewis and Herman E. Calloway on his grandfathers who lived during this time.  If you are an upper elementary student who enjoys a little history and happy endings, you will like Bud, not Buddy!
By Mrs. Norton

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

I read Stormbreaker upon the advice of my 13-year-old son.  It is the first of eight books in the Alex Rider series.  In this book 14-year-old Alex discovers that his recently deceased guardian and uncle, Ian Rider, was a spy.  Alex is pressed into the service of MI6, a British intelligence agency.  The book is a fast-paced and action-packed adventure!  As I read, I kept thinking that this book would make a great James Bond-type movie.  If you are a 6th grader who likes mysteries and is interested in starting a series, try Stormbreaker!
Caution: Language (a few inappropriate words)
By Mrs. Norton

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Clara Caterpillar by Pamela Duncan Edwards

Clara Caterpillar began as an egg laid on a cabbage that was very late hatching.  The snotty, scoffing Catisha is naturally sweet Clara's enemy, while kind Cornelius becomes her best friend.  As they grow up, all the caterpillars form cocoons and when they hatch they are beautiful butterflies.  The most beautiful of all is Catisha.  When Catisha's bright colors attract a hungry crow, Clara saves her.  This story about friendship is sure to be touching.  It has beautiful pictures and a good story that young children will love.
By Payne N.

One of Each by Mary Ann Hoberman

Oliver Tolliver lived all alone.  He lived in his own house that had one of each. He had everything he needed and no more.  Everything was fine until he met Peggoty Small and invited her over to his house.  But he did not have enough to share with her because he just had one of each.  Peggoty teaches Oliver that sharing is fun and it is much better to have many friends than none.  This book has a great rhythm and is fun to read.  Kindergarteners and first-graders will enjoy this book and the unique illustrations.
By Payne N.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

A long time ago on an island far away, there was the tiny town of Chewandswallow.  Chewandswallow was not a normal town.  Food fell from the sky three times a day.  Then a strange weather front makes the food fall in greater amounts and all of the time.  Chewandswallow becomes an unsafe place and the townspeople must evacuate on stale pieces of giant bread and sail across the ocean.  This is a great book for the younger grades and is funny and interesting.  The pictures are entertaining and it teaches about weather!
By Payne N.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dear Dumb Diary, Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jamie Kelly

This is the first in the eight book Dumb Diary series.  The main character is a 6th grade girl named Jamie, and the book is written as her diary.  Jamie's best friend is Isabella, and they both have the same enemy...Angeline.  Angeline is the prettiest girl in school with the best of everything.  The problem is that she and Jaime both like the same boy, Hudson Rivers.  I like how this book and all the other books in this series teach you about real life and how things don't always happen like you want them to.  If you are a 4th-6th grade girl, you would enjoy this series.
By Camille N.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Book #1, The Lightning Thief

Percy Jackson is not a normal boy.  His father disappeared before he was born, and he moves around a lot and is troubled with ADHD and dyslexia.  He eventually discovers he is a demi-god, the son of Poseidon (god of the sea)!  Upon arriving at a safe haven for demi-gods, Camp Half-Blood, Percy defeats the Minotaur.  In the process he loses his mother to Hades (god of the Underworld).  Percy finds that Zeus is accusing Percy of stealing his master bolt and threatening to start a war with Poseidon.  Percy and his friends set out on a quest to prevent a war of the gods and get Percy's mother back.  This is a great story about friendship, magical powers and adventure.  It is a long book, but is an interesting and quick read.  Kids who are interested in Greek mythology may enjoy this first book in Rick Riordan's epic series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
By Payne N.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Rules is a touching story about a 12-year-old girl named Catherine whose younger brother David has autism.  The main storyline explores the frustrations and joys of having a sibling with special needs.  The secondary storyline is about Catherine's special friendship with Jason, a wheelchair bound fourteen-year-old who cannot speak.  This book helped me imagine life from the perspective of someone who is perceived as "different."  If you are between the ages of 10-12 and you like to read feel-good stories that touch your heart and expand your view of the world, this book is for you!
By Mrs. Norton